Where the southern end of the Plott Balsam range dips down towards the Great Smoky Mountains a rocky precipice known as The Pinnacle juts above the ridgeline. From atop this rocky, semi-heath bald, hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. An easily accessible and beautiful 3.5 mile trek along a rumbling stream in Pinnacle Park will lead you to The Pinnacle’s summit.
What Makes It Great
Towering above Sylva, NC is the 1,100 acre tract of land known as Pinnacle Park. Formerly the town’s watershed, the park is now home to a collection of trails that are sure to please your eyes while burning your legs. The network of trails wind upwards around Fisher Creek as it tumbles boisterously down the side of the steep Plott Balsam Range.
The 5,008’ Pinnacle is accessible by a 3.5 mile hike that gains 2,500’ in elevation via the park’s West Fork Trail. The clearly marked (purple and gold blaze) trail begins at the rear of the parking area. The trail follows an old logging grade along Fisher Creek as it steadily gains in elevation. Fisher Creek has the perfect combination of flow and steepness to provide a seemingly endless string of cascades that fills the holler with a roaring echo. An array of access points along the trail lead straight down to the creek. Take your brakes by the creek and let the sounds and sights of nature immerse your senses.
After two moderately strenuous uphill miles on the West Fork Trail you will come to a signed intersection. Veer left at this junction and follow the trail for 1.4 miles to reach the Pinnacle. The trail begins to level after the intersection as you traverse through a lush forest. Continue to follow the purple blazes as the trail roves through rhododendron and mountain laurel. Just before the rocky outcropping of The Pinnacle lies two prime camp sites on a level strip of grassy ridgeline. The “manway” trail out to The Pinnacle is on the far end of these campsites. Carefully crawl through the heath-bald vegetation and scramble atop the rocks to reach your summit destination. A birds-eye view of Sylva, Western Carolina University and multiple National Forests lie on top of The Pinnacle; a reward for your uphill battle.
Who is Going to Love It
Hiking to the Pinnacle can be strenuous yet very rewarding. The path to The Pinnacle is steep and we advise hikers to stay hydrated. Take advantage of the steady access to crisp cool Appalachian water along your way by bringing a water filter.
Flora enthusiasts will fall in love with this destination. The area is a hot spot for wildflowers in late spring. Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurels line the trail near the summit. If your timing is right the last half mile of trail becomes a walk through a tunnel of rhododendron flowers.
The easy access and proximity of the Park to Western Carolina University make this a highly visited area. For a chance at seclusion start your journey early on a weekday.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The parking area for Pinnacle Park rests at the end of Fisher Creek Rd. An informative trailhead sign gives visitors ample information about the park.
Park officials require all visitors to fill out a free permit. The permit doubles as a trail map for the park.
The Park is often patrolled so filling one out truly adds to your own safety. If you are interested in an overnight stay an array of wonderful backcountry campsites are available in the park (limit 3 days).